In its complaint, Allstate alleges the defendants "made numerous misrepresentations and omissions regarding the riskiness and credit quality" of the loans backing the securities sold as part of the transaction. JPMorgan Chase acquired Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual — along with the banks’ assets — back in 2008 when the housing meltdown hit. While both firms are technically defunct, each still has structured finance trading platforms unwinding.
Maiden Lane I is a $25.7 billion portfolio of Bear Stearns securities related to commercial and residential mortgages. JPMorgan refused to buy them when it acquired Bear Stearns to avert the firm’s bankruptcy.
The Fed’s losses included writing down the value of commercial-mortgage holdings by 28 percent to $5.6 billion and residential loans by 38 percent to $937 million as of Dec. 31, the central bank said. Properties in California and Florida accounted for 45 percent of outstanding principal of the residential mortgages.
On the key facts behind the bailouts of 2008, regulators have stonewalled the public, the press and even the inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. On Wednesday, we’ll find out if they can also stonewall the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.
Chairman Phil Angelides and his panel will begin two days of hearings on the subject of "Too Big to Fail," featuring testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Sheila Bair. Across bailouts from Bear Stearns to AIG, the government has refused to release its analysis of the "systemic risks" that compelled it to mount unprecedented interventions into the financial system with taxpayer money. Two years after the crisis, Mr. Angelides and his colleagues should finally let the sun shine on this critical period of our economic history.
A year ago we told you about former FDIC official Vern McKinley, who has made a series of Freedom of Information Act requests. He wanted to know what Fed governors meant when they said a Bear Stearns failure would cause a "contagion." This term was used in the minutes of the Fed meeting at which the central bank discussed plans by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to finance Bear’s sale to J.P. Morgan Chase. The minutes contained no detail on how exactly the fall of Bear would destroy America.
He also requested minutes of the FDIC board meeting at which regulators approved financing for a Citigroup takeover of Wachovia. To provide this assistance, the board had to invoke the "systemic risk" exception in the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, and it therefore had to assert that such assistance was necessary for the health of the financial system. Yet days later, Wachovia cut a better deal to sell itself to Wells Fargo, instead of Citi. So how necessary was the assistance?
The regulators have been giving Mr. McKinley the Heisman, but two weeks ago federal Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle made the FDIC show her the Wachovia documents. She is still…
Yesterday’s "paper" (more in the napkin sense than as a synonym for "intellectual effort") by Mark Zandi and Alan Blinder, which was nothing more than a glorified cover letter for selected perma-Keynesian posts in the administration’s Treserve complex, was so outright bad we did not feel compelled to even remotely comment on its (lack of any) substance. A man far smarter than us, Stanford’s John Taylor (the guy who says the Fed Fund rates should be -10%, not the guy who says the EURUSD should be -10), has taken the time to disassemble what passes for analysis by the tag team of a Princeton tenurist (odd how those always end up destroying the US economy when put in positions of power), and a Moody’s economist, who is undoubtedly casting a nervous eye every few minutes on the administration’s plans for EUCs and other jobless claims criteria. Below is his slaughter of dydactic duo’s demented drivel.
Yesterday the New York Times published an article about simulations of the effects of fiscal stimulus packages and financial interventions using an old Keynesian model. The simulations were reported in an unpublished working paper by Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi. I offered a short quote for the article saying simply that the reported results were completely different from my own empirical work on the policy responses to the crisis.
I have now had a chance to read the paper and have more to say. First, I do not think the paper tells us anything about the impact of these policies. It simply runs the policies through a model (Zandi’s model) and reports what the model says would happen. It does not look at what actually happened, and it does not look at other models, only Zandi’s own model. I have explained the defects with this type of exercise many times, most recently in testimony at a July 1, 2010 House Budget Committee hearing where Zandi also appeared. I showed that the results are entirely dependent on the model: old Keynesian models (such as Zandi’s model) show large effects and new Keynesian models show small effects. So there is nothing new in the fiscal stimulus part of this paper.
Even a win in the World Cup soccer tournament won’t save Europe. Nor will the G-20 meeting in Toronto this week. With Grecian urns, Irish eyes, Spanish flies, and Portuguese waterdogs all up to their eyeballs in debt, it’s only a matter of time before the whole venture implodes. Even after an almost trillion dollar bailout across Europe, Moody’s Investors Service last week downgraded Greece’s debt from A3 to Ba1--junk bonds.
We’ve seen this movie before—in 2008, when it was banks, not countries, reeling out of economic control. Once you recognize this pattern—desperate nations behaving just as the desperate banks did—the next 12 months of news will all make sense. Here is a handy guide.
Greece is clearly Bear Stearns. They’ve taken on too much debt, used derivatives created by Goldman Sachs to put off payment well into the future, and aren’t generating enough tax revenue to pay for their bloated expenses. The cost of Greece’s debt financing is skyrocketing, now 8 percent higher than the benchmark German bund. Either Athens defaults, causing more firebombs to be tossed and even larger riots in the streets, or the European Union arranges a takeover by deep-pocketed Germany.
Germany is the JP Morgan of this story. It will provide a lowball 200 billion Euros to Greece and then end up paying 1000 billion, reminiscent of JP Morgan offering $2 and then paying $10 for Bear Stearns. Now wait a second, I can hear you complain, countries can’t merge like companies.
Of course they can, it happens all the time—though usually when tanks roll. Ask Poland. Or Hungary. In this case, Germany won’t legally own Greece, but in reality, it will absolutely be in charge of fixing Greece’s mess. My sense is the Germans will be quite good at tax collection and not so strong at dismantling the welfare state. But Greek debt will be resolved and maybe the Euro will even rally.
But it won’t be over quite yet. That’s because sadly, Spain is Lehman Brothers. With 22 percent unemployment, and loaded with debt and deteriorating real estate prices, who is going to save it? Tongues will wag that defaulting on debts will teach a lesson to countries that live beyond their means. As a huge exporter,…
Just a few brief comments on the market at the current levels. I was relatively optimistic about the equity markets coming into the beginning of the year. The themes that had dominated much of 2009 (better than expected earnings, accommodative Fed, continuing stimulus, etc) appeared to be largely intact. To my surprise, the rally ran a bit farther than I expected, but Greece and the downturn in China were game changers in my opinion. I was a few weeks early to lay my short positions, but the market ultimately came around to my thinking (better to be lucky than good). Where are we now? In my opinion, we have a global economy that ispre-Greece and a global economy that is post-Greece. The dominoes appear to be lining up in an eerie fashion at this point in time – there are now dozens of negative catalysts in the coming 12 months (which I will detail in a soon to be released report). Although the markets are once again oversold and at risk of a bounce the fundamentals are quickly deteriorating and my expectation of a weak second half appears to be right on cue. I would continue to approach this market with a great deal of caution despite the current oversold conditions.
What do the Germans know? This short selling ban is very desperate looking. I hate to speculate, but my gut tells me that they are beginning to realize how bad the situation is over there. They now understand that the problems in the Euro cannot be solved through intra-country debt issuance and bailouts. The short ban looks like one more act of desperation from a group of nations that have severely underestimated the problems they confront. Unfortunately, I still don’t think they’ve realized that this is a currency crisis and not a solvency crisis. That means they’ll continue to kick the can down the road and markets will battle with the turbulence. This truly does have a very Bear Stearns feel to it.
Will we scare ourselves into a double dip or even a second great depression? Everyone and their mother appears to be in the same camp regarding all the very scary “money printing”. I’ve never in my life heard the drumbeat so loud for fiscal austerity. In fact,
Check kiting is the illegal act of taking advantage of the float to make use of non-existent funds in a checking or other bank account. It is commonly defined as writing a check from one bank knowingly with non-sufficient funds, then writing a check to another bank, also with non-sufficient funds, in order to cover the absence. The purpose of check kiting is to falsely inflate the balance of a checking account in order to allow checks that have been written that would otherwise bounce to clear.
From July 2004 through September 2008, Lawrence G. McDonald was a Vice President of Distressed Debt and Convertible Securities Trading at Lehman Brothers (LEHMQ.PK). He is now a Managing Director at Pangea Capital Management LP. Lawrence is most famous as author of the best selling book "A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: the Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers".
MacDonald, in an article at The Huffington Post entitled "The Geithner Deception", lays major blame for the financial collapse of 2008 at the feet of now Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Geithner was President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2003 through 2008 as the credit bubble expanded and exploded into crisis.
Unsettled Derivatives Trades
McDonald’s premise is that a major reason for the collapse of Lehman and, very quickly, the world’s financial structure, was unsettled derivative trades. The most notorious of these were known as CDS (credit default swaps) which amounted to guarantees by a seller to make payment to the buyer should there be a credit default by a third party. We’ll come back to discuss CDSs further in the next section.
But first, let’s complete the picture so well laid out by Lawrence McDonald. He compares the operation of CDS trades to those in a regulated market, such as the stock exchanges or regulated derivative markets such as the CBOE (The Chicago Board of Options Exchange). When trades are made in those markets, the buyer must deliver payment by the settlement date or the trade is cancelled. In the case of stocks, settlement is required within three days.
McDonald says the problem became blatantly evident to Geithner in…
Marshall Auerback was on BNN’s SqueezePlay yesterday talking about the crisis in Greece (this time without his banker’s pinstriped suit – but we all know he’s a fund manager anyway!). He made some interesting comments about currencies I wanted to run by you.
Greece is the Bear Stearns of sovereign debtors
I know you have already seen comments from me, Marc, Claus, and the other Edward on Greece today. But this is a very big deal. Marshall calls it the Bear Stearns event in the sovereign debt crisis, a line he got from me. Here’s the thinking:
It reminds me a little of the subprime crisis. When it engulfed Bear Stearns, policy makers stepped in with bailout money. The immediate problem of Bear Stearns’ collapse was solved, but the systemic issues remained. Yet, recklessly, policy makers did almost nothing in the few months afterwards to deal with those issues. This was a crucial error given that people like me were warning of impending calamity. I was mystified (see comments at the end of my Swedish crisis post). The Minsky moment came and policy makers missed it entirely.
In fact, many were incensed because they thought Bear should have failed. So when Lehman came around, it did fail. And we all know how that turned out.
So, here we are again. The sovereign debt crisis has been building for three months now – ever since Dubai Worldannounced it wanted to default on its loans. In my view, we have now reached a critical juncture. If Greece is allowed to default, all hell will break lose. On the other hand, Greece has run a deficit for years. It’s ‘cheated’ to meet the standards set forth in its previously agreed-to treaties and it is unwilling to take austerity measures that Ireland, faced with similar circumstances, has taken. What should the EU do?
The dilemma is this: how do you eliminate moral hazard for perceived free riders while still credibly safeguarding against the destruction and contagion that a Eurozone sovereign default would create?
"We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. Out of the collapse of a prosperity whose builders boasted their practicality has come the conviction that in the long run economic morality pays…
We are beginning to abandon our tolerance of the abuse of power by those who betray for profit the elementary decencies of life. In this process evil things formerly accepted will not be so easily condoned…"
Franklin D Roosevelt, Second Inaugural Address, January 1937
The hubris associated with the trading crowd is peaking, and heading for a fall that could be a terrific surprise. It seems to be reaching a peak, trading now in a kind of euphoria.
I had a conversation this morning with a trader that I have known from the 1990′s, which is a lifetime in this business. I have to admit that he is successful, moreso than any of the popular retail advisory services you might follow such as Elliott Wave, for example, which he views with contempt. He is a little bit of an insider, and knows the markets and what makes them tick.
He likes to pick my brain on some topics that he understands much less, such as the currency markets and monetary developments, and sometimes weaves them into his commentary, always without attribution. He has been a dollar bull forever, and his worst trading is in the metals. He likes to short gold and silver on principle, and always seems to lose because he rarely honors his first stop loss, which is a shocking lapse in trading discipline.
His tone was ebullient. The Street has won, it owns the markets. They can take it up, and take it down, and make money on both sides, any side, of any market move. I have to admit that in the last quarter his trading results are impeccable.
We diverged into the dollar, which he typically views as unbeatable, with the US dominating the international financial system forever. He likes to ask questions about formal economic terms and relationships, or monetary systems and policy. He
Please play this must-see video by Alan Grayson explaining in great detail exactly why the Federal Reserve does not want to be audited, and thus why it absolutely needs to be audited.
"Let’s find out once and for all who owns the hotels, who owns the houses, and let’s try and put this wild beast that creates money out of nothing and jams it in the pockets of special interests like Maiden Lane, like Bear Stearns, like JPMorgan, like all their friends. Let’s put them under some degree of restraint before it all comes crashing down, on us."
Syriza is one vote short of an outright majority. However, Syriza has already secured an alliance with the Independent Greeks, a right-wing party that shares little common ground with Syriza except for its rejection of austerity measures.
The coalition would have at least 162 seats, and that's an allegedly comfortabl...
Last week, the S&P 500 put an end to its streak of weekly losses, despite giving back some gains on Friday. Thursday provided the big catalyst, with the ECB’s announcement of its bold new monetary stimulus plan. Investors were cheered and soothed for the moment. And U.S. fundamentals still look strong. But with Greece trying to turn back time, with volatility elevated (and likely to continue as such), and with the technical situation still dicey, the near term outlook is still worrisome.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart...
While Obama is doing everything in his power to show that when it comes to commiserating with the Saudis, he is first in line, the US relationship with that "other" US ally in the region, Israel, is in a fast and furious state of "crash and burn."
Recall, that it was yesterday when it was revealed that President Obama will forgo a visit to the Taj Mahal during his visit to India in order to pay respects in Saudi Arabia after the death of King Abdullah, the White House announced early Saturday morning. Vice President Biden was initially scheduled to lead the U.S. delegation, but he will instea...
A bit of a hodgepodge of charts to review. I'll start with my favourite of the bunch: the relationship between oil and gold prices. Peaks in the relative price between these commodities have historically provided swing lows for commodities - oil in particular. Certainly, sufficient time has passed between peaks to mark a major low.
The relationship between Nasdaq Highs and Lows doesn't suggest we have reached any major inflection yet. Ideally, Nasdaq Lows should spike above 100 to mark a major low, with 200+ for 'back up the truck' style low.
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An interview with John Ehlers of Stock Spotter and Mesa Software
Ilene: John, in our last discussion about trading systems in general and yours in particular (Can trading be reduced to cycles, stresses and vibrations?) you mentioned Monte Carlo simulations and their use in measuring performance. Can you explain more about how you measure the performance of a trading system?
John: Let's start with comparing trading with gambling. The two have several things in common. In both ...
So as I was saying yesterday (Bitcoin: The Biggest Clown Show In History?), Bitcoin has several obstacles on the path to potential success as an alternative currency. But I forgot to mention hacking and theft at Bitcoin exchanges and other technical problems. This is related to the lack of government backing and the fact that the value of Bitcoins is based entirely on confidence.
Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.
PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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